Happy Father’s Day

My stepfather passed away five years ago this week.

Father’s Day was the last time we spoke, in fact. Despite what people often say, knowing “I love you” was the last thing I said to him is not much of a comfort.

He wasn’t old or infirm or the victim of some terrible accident or horrific crime. He just died. Sitting in his chair in the living room. Here. Gone.

An aneurysm.

Grief is one of those odd things that hides out in the corners of our minds we don’t often visit, if we can help it. Death creates empty spaces inside us and vast silences where we expect to hear a loved one’s laughter or wisdom. The memory of their presence is also a reminder of their absence.

My stepfather was a thoughtful, stubborn, complex guy. We argued the finer points of politics, religion, and philosophy at the dinner table. We watched Star Trek: The Next Generation together and teased out the moral quandaries. He taught me ethics and logic and argumentation alongside compassion and empathy. As a superhero, he encompassed Batman’s cynical distrust of humanity and Superman’s shining belief in justice.

Possibly one of the best choices I’ve ever made was to marry a man much like him. Possibly one of the worst was to let self-doubt hold me back from writing.

A parent who came to the job late and excelled at it, my stepfather knew I’d be an author long before I believed it.

Here I am, five years too late, with a gift I know he would have loved.

I’ll be a published author next month, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

M.Q. Barber

M.Q. Barber is the USA Today bestselling author of the Neighborly Affection contemporary romance series. She's also an inveterate, unrepentant scribbler of ideas on whatever's handy.


  1. M.Q., your stepfather sounds like he was an amazing man. The most inspiring stories to me are those of stepfathers who come in and not just fill a void but complete a family. I’m so sorry about his passing. Even though I know he’ll be watching your big moment from somewhere, I wish he were here with you to celebrate your first book release.

  2. M.Q. such a lovely post! And such a great recognition of a person that had such a lasting impact on your life. I am sure he is proud.

    • Thank you, Cd. I’m profoundly grateful for that lasting impact. A good father is a gift beyond price.

  3. MQ, I loved your reflections on this wonderful man. I am willing to bet he’s bursting with pride about your accomplishment. You and your family must be blessed to have known him.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about your stepfather. Loss is dreadful, but I know he would be proud of your accomplishments. Your post is a lovely tribute….to both of you.

    • Thank you, Mae. Having that certainty is one thing I’m glad of. I know he’d be over the moon.

  5. M.Q. it’s a bittersweet pleasure to read this blog. I’m so sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful tribute. My step-father passed away seven years ago this June. Most of us don’t choose our families, our families happen to us most often, but as a child, there’s nothing more meaningful than to know that someone chose you– chose to step into the role of “Dad”. Thank you for sharing.

    • That’s a lovely thought, Sophia, thank you. I absolutely agree; the act of choosing to be an engaged stepparent is one that offers lasting benefits for the child. I’m sorry for your loss as well.

Comments are closed